Elisabeth Hodges, Miami University
Jean-Luc Godard’s JLG/JLG. Autoportrait de décembre (1995) participates in the longstanding tradition of the self-portrait, yet with a difference. Originally commissioned in 1993 by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to honor the centennial of the invention of the cinema, JLG/JLG attempts to show the ontological self of cinema roughly one hundred years after its invention, yet only discernable through Godard’s understanding of his own cinematic self-image in the later years of his life. This paper will argue that Godard’s self-portrait draws attention to the divided nature of a genre in which author, artist, and self appear in an uncanny encounter with their own representation. Unlike Montaigne, who exhilarates in the consubstantiality of the book, I will show that Godard is a far more reluctant painter of the self, who inflects his work with images of loss and mourning for a screen-self that will perhaps never coincide with the real and that perhaps will serve as an insufficient epitaph for the director’s oeuvre and for his cinematographic legacy.